Personal Home Repair and Maintenance With a Personal Twist

Kaile Warren was a homeless blue-collar worker with $500 in his pocket when he decided that homeowners deserved more than what they were getting from their repair and service providers. Wanting to start a business where he could put his expertise to work and create a livelihood for himself, Warren decided the best route would be home maintenance, repair and improvement.

But he didn't approach the business from the typical serviceman's standpoint – get in, get it fixed and get out. Instead, he positioned his company as a professional organization – much like a dentist or doctor would in creating a new practice – realizing that homeowners would appreciate a value-driven, customer-focused company that took the same care with their homes as it would with their health. It's that kind of personalization that made the firm a success in a market where service and repair firms are a dime a dozen.

Based in South Portland, Maine, Rent-A-Husband specializes in a wide range of handyman services that range in scope from air conditioner installation and basement cleaning, to carpentry and assembly work. Rent-A-Husband does everything from cleaning out garages, to hanging pictures, to installing ceiling fans, to building a new deck or porch. Founded on the premise that homeowners love the idea of one-stop shopping, the company completes and manages the entire project so homeowners have no need to negotiate and schedule with multiple vendors. That means instead of calling five different service providers to handle five different areas of their homes, consumers can make a single call and get it all done by one company.

"Rent-A-Husband was created to define a new standard in home maintenance, repair and improvement," says Warren, in a letter to customers posted on his Web site. "To do so, we have to revolutionize an industry that could certainly use it. There is no reason you can't have the same expectations for quality, timeliness, and professionalism when it comes to taking care of your home that you have of your physician when it comes to taking care of your health."

Working on the philosophy that customers deserve quality, respect, honesty, professionalism and humor, Warren has built his business into a franchise with 12 locations in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Hampshire. The success strategies he's passed along to franchisees include returning phone calls promptly, estimating project costs honestly, getting approvals before starting on any unexpected work, carrying comprehensive insurance for the work the firm does and "being in a good mood" – the latter of which isn't always easy to find these days.

The catchy name of Warren's business has also helped the company realize success, particularly since not all husbands are as "handy" around the house as their wives would like. And for those homeowners who aren't lucky enough to be located near a Rent-A-Husband, Warren in 2001 wrote a book entitled, "The Official Rent-A-Husband Guide to a Safe, Problem-Free Home". Co-authored by Jane MacLean Craig, the book is the perfect marriage of practical home repair instruction, valuable safety tips, and Warren's humorous insights on the home repair trade.